Bears confidently turn to John Timu at inside linebacker
Defensive end Akiem Hicks expects to hear from linebacker John Timu on the field. And he expects to be told something about the future.
“Oh, man,” Hicks said Friday. “I’ve always been a big fan of Timu, and this is not just me talking about my teammate. He has a real knack of predicting what play is going to come. He puts in his time and studies, and he’s able to tell you on the field.
“There have been times where he’s walked up behind me, while I was in my stance, and said, ‘Run coming to you — to you!’ I’m like, ‘How do you know this?’ It’s worked out for us.”
In other words, the Bears’ defense appears to be in capable hands Monday night against the Vikings. With linebacker Danny Trevathan suspended for one game, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said that Timu is “pretty much” in charge of handling his calls on the field.
“We’re confident in John,” Fangio said. “John knows our defense. He’s been here for three years. The game’s not too big for him. He loves to play. He is instinctive and smart. So we think he’ll do fine.”
Timu and Christian Jones split time next to Trevathan the previous two weeks with Nick Kwiatkoski out with a right pectoral injury. Timu was featured in the base defense, and Jones took the field primarily in passing situations.
That should change against the Vikings because both linebackers will be needed to play extensively with Trevathan out. Jonathan Anderson is the top reserve. He and Timu began the season on the practice squad.
“[The lack of depth is] a concern, but at least we’re playing with guys that were here in camp,’’ Fangio said. “So [I] feel good that we’re not having somebody in off the street having to learn a new system. They’ll all do fine.”
Timu won’t be overwhelmed. As an undrafted rookie, he made his first start against the Vikings and future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson on Dec. 20, 2015.
The Vikings pulled away in the second half for a 38-17 victory, but Timu made a team-best nine tackles, including eight solo stops. He tackled Peterson three times for losses, though two were negated by penalties elsewhere.
“I’m excited for him to be back there,” Hicks said.
For Timu, it’s another opportunity to prove he belongs. It starts with getting everything in order before the snap.
“I’m just there to make sure everybody is on the same page along with everybody else,” Timu said. “Being an inside linebacker in any defense, you’re the guy that’s got to make sure to take charge.”
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